On the rise: women in media

Many women are joining the journalism profession these days - but precious few have reached top management. Women decision-makers make it possible for female reporters to grow their careers and see issues they value being put into print. So the dearth of women at the top significantly affects how women are treated in the newsrooms and the pages of newspapers.

Many local media houses how have gender policies. While this may be met with a lot of scepticism, given the long history of sexism in the newsrooms, we believe it is a step in the right direction.

The local media has shown an encouraging start in correcting historical gender disparities – by encouraging women to take up leadership positions. Those women have demonstrated a truth some still prefer to ignore: that women can do any job just as well as men.

Because they tend to see things differently, women journalists play a critical role in enriching news coverage by publishing stories of human welfare. They are often on the frontlines on stories about gender discrimination, vulnerability, child abuse and social services. In the days of old, women were invisible in the media. Usually they made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But things are changing.

With a desire to help improve the condition of women in the media, the US Embassy Public Affairs Section in partnership with a local NGO, the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre, recently supported a unique one-year program – the Women Journalists Mentoring Programme.

This features one-on-one pairing with experienced mentors, group meetings and discussions with seasoned journalists from Zimbabwe and the United States, and specialized training sessions. There are 30 female participants in the programme, drawn from various media houses. The mentoring process helps young women journalists to gain confidence, improve their reporting skills and take on higher-level responsibilities.

But what are women journalists doing to obtain key positions in the newsroom? While some have been accused of being lazy and blaming patriarchy, others realise that media is a tough and competitive industry in which they constantly have to prove themselves. Women should not expect to be handed a position simply because of their historically subjugated sex.

They have to break through countless barriers, but the positions are there for the taking now. Most professional women in Zimbabwe are smart but not power hungry, which probably explains why there are so few of them in the media and politics. Hats-off to organizations and institutions that are doing-away with needless sexism and giving women the space to make a difference.

Post published in: News

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